Interview with Alexander Philippe

Fellow artist Alexander Philippe asks me the meaning of life and other tricky questions.

SF 20/21 Preview Gala

Philippe: When did you know you that you will be pursuing art/an art career?

Teichert: My great grandmother Minerva (awesome name btw) was an early 20th century muralist. I looked up to her and wanted to be like her as a child. After encountering a lot of detours along the way, here I am presently, on the intended path.

Philippe: In our current society obsessed with meaning, does art need meaning?

Teichert: Is our society obsessed with meaning? I think we’re obsessed with meaninglessness. If you want to be relevant, make work that means nothing.

Philippe: What is the role of traditional art in our contemporary society?

Teichert: Traditional art gives us something to marvel at and think, “How did they do that?” I’m always in awe of the old masters’ craftsmanship given the resources they had at hand. I certainly don’t mix my own pigment.  I admire classical painting, but am unimpressed with some of the subject matter of Renaissance revivalists.

I encountered a pack of kids in art school that I nicknamed the Old Masturbators. It’s great that you spent 150 hrs on that and I think that you’re an excellent draftsman bro, but fruit bowls are a bore.

Philippe: Does a person need to go to art school to become an artist?

Teichert: To quote BJ Palmer, “Many a great man is born, has within him greatness, and dies great, stifled because his education can’t take it, his education won’t let him, his education ridicules him, and the educations of his family or friends keep him submerged.”

I went to art school and improved vastly as an artist while there, but there was a point of diminishing marginal utility. A point when throwing more money into the sinkhole wasn’t going to make me more prepared for a life as an artist. I’m still learning and evolving. Going to art school didn’t make me an artist. Practicing art does.

Philippe: What major sacrifices did you have to endure to sustain being an artist/creating art?

Teichert: Conventional employment.

Philippe: Did you ever feel defeated as an artist?

Teichert: Totally. I have a folder on my desktop entitled Failed Proposals.

Philippe: What is the role of an artist in our current society?

Teichert: Court jester

Philippe: In your own words, what is an artist?

Teichert: That’s as hard to answer as What is Art? Who am I as an artist- someone who wants to use art as visual communication-a vehicle for questioning, observation, reflection and satire.

Philippe: What medium do you prefer to work on?

Teichert: I’m democratic when it comes to materials. Whatever medium best conveys my vision will do, though I am partial to making BIG THINGS. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a penis of my own.

Philippe: What is success to you as an artist?

Teichert: Ideally, I’d like to pay my rent on time, but that’s success in any business. Success as an artist means waking up and creating by whatever means possible. I get satisfaction from making something out of nothing.

Philippe: Does art change the world or does the world change the artist?

Teichert: We are all receptors of our surroundings, whether we want the osmosis or not. The world does affect us, and some of us hope to return the favor.

Philippe: Is art the ultimate savior?

Teichert: There are artists who believe they are saviors (ah hem, Damien Hirst).

Philippe: Artist dead or alive you would want to collaborate with?

Teichert: John Baldessari or Cindy Sherman

Philippe: How do you deal with criticisms?

Teichert: Badly. I work though a cycle of indignant anger, name calling, sedation and then acceptance. I joke, I joke.  Though criticisms do hurt.  I always keep in mind that not everyone is as intelligent as me, and therefore, cannot grasp my genius.

Philippe: Is rejection necessary for the growth of an artist?

Teichert: If it is then I’m a giant.

Philippe: Is the art world corrupt?

Teichert: I would say, like most winner take all industries (see modeling, acting, music), visual art is not a meritocracy. Great actors do Shakespeare in the park while hacks rake in the dough at the box office in a blow up film. Institutions ordain individuals based on something other than merit. Hell if I know what their criteria are, but if they wanted to ordain me with a MacArthur Grant I wouldn’t call them out for corruption.

Art is not fair. There is way more supply than demand for new art, and the business model does not favor new artists. If you think that’s corruption then I suggest you find yourself a new path. Make art because it satisfies you. Oh, and don’t quit your day job. Most of us have one (or many).

Philippe: Die struggling or live long and burn out? 

Teichert: I’m going to be a crazy old cat lady affixing abalone shells to the fence of my cabin in Big Sur and selling tchotchkes to tourists on their way through. The definition of a simple life is open to interpretation. Martyrs are terribly unattractive.